If you've spent any time at all reading up on ways to improve your sales game, you've no doubt read over and over the importance of rapid, consistent follow ups to every lead, every closed sale, every form of contact that might conceivably lead to a sale. And that's not bad advice, as far as it goes-far more sales people have a problem with not following up than with following up too much. But today, we're going to discuss the times when following up on that sales lead isn't a good idea-those times where jumping on a sales lead will only lead to wasted hours, chronic headaches, and maybe even some negative word-of-mouth.
It's not much of a sales lead.
Ideally, following on a sales lead should be done when there's a true sales lead to follow up on. That means you shouldn't be harassing any person that comes in to contact with your business, at least not immediately. Someone who gives their email to your website to get a bit more information probably doesn't want you looking them up and calling their business line to 'follow up'.
You might make a few sales that way, of course, but you'd likely do better with a more natural approach and wouldn't risk the complaints such an aggressive method inevitably generates. You want to foster positive relationships, even with prospects who ultimately don't buy, so methods with binary sell/annoy outcomes should be off the table.
You're not ready to sell.
Immediate follow-ups on a good sales lead only works if you're ready to sell. Maybe you need to know the prospect better for your preferred sales process, maybe the product you got a sales lead on isn't ready yet, maybe the sales lead indicates a prospect who doesn't want to buy yet. The point is you don't follow up until you think that follow up can generate a sale. Trying to follow up as quickly as possible is only admirable when that follow up has a chance to go somewhere otherwise; you're just wasting your time and the prospect's.
This isn't so much a problem with following up, but in the preparation for following up. It's not enough to call as quickly as possible. When studies show the value of rapid follow-ups, they assume a parity of approach--that's to say, they assume you're going to be just as ready and capable regardless of when you follow up. If you're not going to be that ready, don't follow up that fast! People don't like having their time wasted, and you should be using yours getting ready to sell or pursuing a better sales lead.
Which brings us to our last reason following up may be hurting you.
You have better leads in the wings.
Following up on a sales lead may be a great idea, but you have a limited amount of time to work every day. That means that you need to be picking which leads to pursue with a bit of discretion, in most cases. For example, if you're getting incoming calls from interested parties, you absolutely should not be wasting time following up on someone whose only filled out a 'maybe I might be interested, I guess' survey on your website (that they only filled out to get some sort of special offer). Follow ups are a step above cold calling and can enhance most passive sales methods, but don't forget the value of your best leads.
Many sales people read advice that tells them follow up, follow up, follow up, and don't realize the caveats. In short, all follow ups are not created equally, and when you have something better than a follow up waiting for you, put it on the 'to do' list for when you run out of better leads. Don't let the ideas you read about improving sales overwrite your common sense, and you'll do fine.